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Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered

Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered

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Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered

4.5/5 (33 evaluări)
132 pagini
2 ore
19 iun. 2013


A young boy spends his tenth summer on his aunt and uncle’s farm, where he is constantly involved in crazy escapades with his cousin Harris. “On the Larson farm, readers will experience hearts as large as farmers’ appetites, humor as broad as the country landscape and adventures as wild as boyhood imaginations. All this adds up to a hearty helping of old-fashioned, rip-roaring entertainment.”--Publishers Weekly

19 iun. 2013

Despre autor

Gary Paulsen (1939-2021) wrote more than two hundred books for children and adults. Three of his novels – Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room – were Newbery Honor books. In 1997, he received the ALA's Margaret A. Edwards Award for his contribution to young adult literature. His books have sold over 35 million copies around the world.

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Harris and Me - Gary Paulsen



In which I meet Harris and am

exposed for the first time

to the vagaries of inflation

Meeting Harris would never have happened were it not for liberal quantities of Schlitz and Four Roses. For nearly all of my remembered childhood there was an open bottle of Schlitz on a table. My parents drank Four Roses professionally from jelly jars—neat, without diluting ice, water, or mix.

They were, consequently, vegetables most of the time—although the term vegetable connotes a feeling of calm that did not exist. They went through three phases of drunkenness: buzzed (happy), drunk (mean as snakes), and finally, obliterated (Four Roses coma).

Unfortunately the buzzed, or happy, stage only lasted a short time, and it grew shorter as time progressed until they were pretty much mean whenever they were conscious.

Home became, finally, something of an impossibility for me and I would go to stay with relatives for extended periods of time.

By the time I was eleven I had stayed with several uncles, my grandmother, and an old Norwegian bachelor farmer who thought God lived in the haymow of his barn, where he was afraid to go without wearing a feed sack over his head. He told me God couldn’t see through feed sacks and if God couldn’t see you, you never died.

I had many uncles and shirttail relatives and when I was eleven a kind of rotation dumped me with Harris and his family.

The sheriff sent a deputy to pick me up and we left for the Larsons’ place in late afternoon. They lived on a farm forty miles north of the town I lived in, yet it might as well have been on a different planet. The ride took about an hour and a half but it went through such varied terrain that before we had gone five miles I was in despair. For two or three of those miles the car moved past farm country that still seemed rather settled. Frequently there were tractors working in the fields and people who waved cheerfully, walking down the sides of the road. But soon the trees closed in, closer and thicker until they were a wall on either side and the road and car were enveloped in a curtain of green darkness. And there were no more open fields or driveways, just dirt tracks that disappeared into the forest and brush. It was like going off the edge of the earth on those old maps used by early explorers, into places where it said: There Be Monsters Here.

The deputy I was with spit constantly out the side window while extolling the virtues of the car—a 1949 Ford.

It’s got the V-eight, he told me. Gets you a lot of power, the V-eight. Spit. You need power for catching criminals while in hot pursuit. Spit.

"You want to be able to move this thing when you go into a hot pursuit situation." Spit.

There was absolutely no break in the forest. Black-green, densely vegetated, the summer northern woods fought right to the shoulder of the asphalt. Indeed, in places the trees came out over the road and made a green tunnel. I kept looking for an indication of life.

People live here? I asked finally.

Sure. Spit. Must be two, three hundred of ’em scattered around. You know, back in a ways.

The road grew more narrow, closed in until it nearly disappeared ahead of the car, and just when it seemed the car would have to dive into the trees, the deputy hung a left and the car bounced as we turned onto a dirt road—or, more accurately, a set of ruts.

We drove on this track for some miles—probably seven or eight—and again, just as the car seemed to run out of road, the deputy turned left once more. The tracks were still more narrow and I thought we would surely get stuck in the ruts, but suddenly we exploded out into a large area of cleared land.

The Larson place, the deputy said.

The cleared land must have been more than half a square mile. It was planted in corn and small grain and looked rich and even. Along one side of the rectangular field lay a half-mile-long driveway, straight along the edge, and we now turned down it.

By this time I was nervous and had trouble sitting still. I had met the Larsons only once, though they were in some distant way related to me, and that had been four years earlier, when I was just seven. I had lived considerably since then—including almost three years in the Philippines where my father had been stationed—and I had almost no memory of how they looked, what they were like. There were four of them, I knew that: Knute, some kind of second uncle; his wife and my second aunt by marriage, Clair; their daughter, Glennis, who was fourteen; and my second cousin, Harris, who was nine.

I thought of what to do as we moved down the drive. I had done this many times—been put in new places—and I had devised a method that worked. I pretended to be shy. Actually it was only partly pretending since I had a caution of meeting new people that often translated as flight. But shyness had served me well, and as we approached the house and farm buildings I began to withdraw.

They must have been expecting us because as the deputy worked the Ford down the driveway and we bounced into the yard, they were all standing there, waiting, one next to the other, where the driveway turned and widened next to the house.

The deputy lifted his weight out of the car—holding on to the top of the car door and grunting—and motioned for me to get out the other side.

I held back—the shyness kicking in—but in a moment realized that I would appear ridiculous if I stayed in the car and so got out but stood by the door waiting.

Well, here he is, the deputy said. I think we might be a bit early . . .

His voice was fishing, ending in half a question, which didn’t make any sense until my aunt Clair smiled, wiping her hands on her apron—an act I found later she did when worrying or thinking—and said, Don’t worry, Orlo. I made rhubarb pie and it’s done. You aren’t that early.

The deputy smiled, nodded, and turned back to me and the car. Don’t hold back that way. Fetch your box and come on.

I still didn’t move but Glennis, Harris’s sister, who was coltish and smiled with her whole face, came forward and took my box out of the backseat of the car and started for the house with it. It was meant in a helpful way but posed a problem because I had my private stuff in the box. Even that wouldn’t have been bad except that part of my private stuff was a collection of art photographs that I had bought for seventy centavos in the Philippines from a man on the street in Manila.

In higher circles the pictures would be known as artistic anatomical studies but the man who sold them to me called them dourty peectures, which seemed far more accurate.

I enjoyed looking at them—being a student of art and at an age when the hormones seemed to dominate my every waking moment—but was fairly certain neither Glennis nor her mother would approve of them. This nervousness was compounded by the fact that the deputy was still there and I had somehow picked up the idea that the pictures were illegal. A mental image of me being arrested in front of all of them for possessing dourty peectures overcame my shyness, and I jumped forward and grabbed the box from Glennis.

All this time Harris had been standing, watching, his hands behind him. I hadn’t really looked at him, but when I moved to take the box from Glennis the grown-ups fell in together and started walking toward the house and Harris came up alongside me just as I grabbed the box.

Physically he was of a set piece with Glennis. Blond—hair bleached white by sun—face perpetually sunburned and red with a peeling nose, freckles sprinkled like brown pepper over everything, and even, white teeth, except that when Harris smiled there were two gone from the front. He was wearing a set of patched bib overalls. No shirt, no shoes—just freckles and the bibs, which were so large he seemed to move inside them.


He walked beside me, his hands still to his rear. I would subsequently find that this posture could be dangerous, meant he was hiding something, but I didn’t know that this soon so I nodded. Hi.

We heard your folks was puke drunks, is that right?

Harris! Glennis was walking on the other side of me and her voice snapped. That’s not polite, to talk that way.

Well you can just blow it out your butt, you old cow. You ain’t no grown-up to tell me what to do. How the hell am I supposed to know things if I don’t go ahead and ask them?

Glennis was a strapping girl, and she reached across my back and slapped Harris on the side of the head so hard his teeth rattled.

You watch your tongue with all that swearing—I’ll tell the folks and Pa will take a board to you.

But Harris ignored her—I would find later that getting hit hard by Glennis was a regular part of his life—and asked again, Well, are they?

I nodded. They drink too much.

Do they see stuff?

What do you mean?

I mean like old man Knutson in town. He’s always drunk and pees his pants and he’s all the time talking about seeing Jesus in a peach tree. He snorted. "Heck, there ain’t a peach tree closer than a thousand miles to here—how can he see Jesus, even if Jesus was dumb enough to stand up in a peach tree? But like that—do

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  • (4/5)
    An eleven year old boy is sent to stay on his aunt and uncles farm for a summer, escaping a troubled home life. Harris is his daredevil cousin who constantly leads him astray. Great for boys aged 10 plus, descriptive and well told.
  • (5/5)
    Guys, keep doing whatever the heck you do. Run over Ernie.
  • (3/5)
    I loved Harris. He reminds of some of my students who have huge imaginations and noses for trouble. I keep more than one copy on my classroom shelves because all the boys want to read it after I read them the part about the frog. Ew!
  • (3/5)
    I loved Harris. He reminds of some of my students who have huge imaginations and noses for trouble. I keep more than one copy on my classroom shelves because all the boys want to read it after I read them the part about the frog. Ew!
  • (5/5)
    fun very funny carzy farm life
  • (5/5)
    This is quite possibly the finest piece of writing that Gary Paulsen ever did. I read this a number of years ago, but I've always been disappointed that I couldn't read it aloud to children thanks in large part to Harris being a troublesome young man with a decidedly foul mouth. I have never laughed so hard at any other book in my life, the stories of Patrick McManus included. There are few books that manage to hold so honestly to the true nature of a mischievous boy, unacceptable bits and all, and there is no other book that holds a candle to this for comedic value. It isn't in the surprise of his actions, but in the fact that despite a reader being able to foresee the consequences of Harris's actions long before he does, the reader is always so entirely captured in the ride that Harris takes along the way and particularly his reactions after the fact. I found myself laughing at what I knew was coming long before it ever happened only to find myself laughing that much harder by the time it actually came to pass. I'd recommend this to any literate person who doesn't risk bodily injury from the laughter it will unavoidably induce.
  • (5/5)
    This is the best book I have read in a while. It's a story for kids before kids needed vampires, zombies, and the end of the world as we know it. The narrator is spending a summer on a farm of a distant relative and we follow his adventures with Harris, a trouble making, dare-devil, up-for-anything, swearing, breath of fresh air. You like every one of the characters. They are people you want to know with traits you want to have. The words "play" and "playing" were used so often in this book because that is what these boys do; and you'll want your boys to follow their lead and stop staring at a screen (but you'd never let them because every thing they do becomes a near death experience, and in our day and age we would never allow such freedom.) I laughed out loud at the situations Harris got this kid into. I cried when I was finished and could cry some more now just thinking about it. I loved this book. I recommend it to everyone and can't wait to read it with my seventh graders.
  • (3/5)
    Definitely for boys! Didn't exactly love the story but kept reading to find out how it ended.
  • (4/5)
    If you are looking for a heartwarming, poignant tale that will make you laugh and cry, then you might want to read this gem.When studying the author's life, I came across a link that mentioned Paulsen wrote this as an autobiographical tale based on his real life experience of spending a summer on a farm in Minnesota with distant relatives.Both parents were alcoholics and often he was shuffled from one home to another. By the time he was 11 years of age, Paulsen was relocated several times.Never feeling as though he belonged, the narrator of Harris and Me tells of a magical time one summer when he learned the joys and the hard work of country living.His distant cousin Harris was more than adventurous, he was indeed a devil may care, seize the moment and grab the gusto kind of person.This is a magical story of a transforming summer spent with a family that cared and shared.Paulsen's description of some of the antics were laugh-out-loud funny.Recommended.
  • (5/5)
    a book that you never want to put down because it's always at a good part.
  • (5/5)
    very funny book! you will like this book if you kind of like adventure stories. this book is set back tn the 1900's. harris is a boy that lives on a farm and his cousin comes to live there for the summer. he is from the city, and doesn't know anything about living on a farm. one of my favorite parts of this book is when the whole family goes to see a movie in town, and harris's cousin gets a girlfrind and she just so happens to live 3 miles away from him. so instead of walking, harris steales the gasoline engine off of the washing machine. harris took the microchip thingy out of it and it makes the engine run a lot faster and they rig a bike up and put him on it. good book!!!
  • (5/5)
    A funny and good book. Lots of humor.
  • (5/5)
    This book is freaking amazing.
  • (4/5)
    This was a funny book! It was fun to see what trouble Harris could get into and what adventures they went on. I felt bad for the narrator when he had to leave.
  • (5/5)
    An eleven year old boy of alcoholic parents is passed from relative to relative. One summer he stays with a distant uncle and his family on their farm. This is where he meets Harris and experiences a whole new way of life and new meaning to the word "family". This is also a place he does not want to leave.This is a good book for elementary students. It is an easy read and very enjoyable.
  • (3/5)
    Banned Book Week! Time to read some banned books. First up is this curious little item from the mid-90s, challenged apparently for its language.A nameless 11-year-old narrator is passed from relative to relative in the 1950s (Probably? Reference is made to a 1949 truck.) because his parents are a pair of hopeless drunks. The latest stop is a farm in Minnesota (Probably? There is reference to someone going 150 miles west to North Dakota.) where we are introduced to Harris, the poster child for The Dangerous Book for Boys. The book flap references Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and like them, Harris is chock full of mischief, willfulness and life-threatening plans for play that would probably make helicopter parents faint at the mere thought of them. He drops racist references to Japanese people as casually as Huck used the N-word. Harris also uses the word "damn" liberally, which I guess some people find offensive? And there are references to nudie pics.So, should it be banned? No. Might it be inappropriate for young readers? Um, yeah. If I were reading it to a child, I'd feel obliged to have a lot of side discussions to put a lot of things into context of the historical framework.But, hey, I'm an adult, and I grew up on a farm that was testosterone heavy with two older brothers, a father and a live-in uncle and had my own share of stupidly dangerous episodes of play and work, as well as exposure to racism, profanity, and pornography, so it was pretty easy to relate.The hijinks are amusing enough in their boys-will-be-boys way with plenty of groin-injuring slapstick. The ending, like the setting and protagonist's name, seems needlessly vague, but its acceptable enough in its what-do-you-think-happened-next way that depends entirely on if you are in a good or bad mood when you finish the book.
  • (4/5)
    Set in rural Minnesota after WWII, the book focuses on a boy's experiences living with his cousins during summer vacation. Having spent summers on a farm in Iowa, it was fun to read all of their adventures. As usual, Paulson's writing is colorful and full of vivid images.
  • (5/5)
    Laugh out loud story of a boy sent to visit his cousins in Minnesota for a summer. Harris drags him into all types of trouble and when he finally has a chance to seek revenge, Harris faces a fearsome foe. You never quite know what is just around the corner with these two and Paulsen keeps you laughing whether you are 7 or 70. A great read-aloud if you know your audience and you have previewed it first.
  • (5/5)
    An 11year old boy is moved around from family to family because his parents are alcoholics. He finally ends up with the Larson family in the rough country of America. With no TV or any modern type of entertainment Harris and his cousin set out to make their own fun. Such as riding pigs, building their own motorcycle out of a washing machine motor and bicycle, and getting attacked by a rooster and cow. This book is a great book. I enjoy reading books that pertain to living on a farm because I live on a farm. I have always wanted to go back in time and live life like they do. This book is well put together and it keeps you interested.This book could be used in the classroom to teach children what was like before technology. This book could also be used to compare and contrast their life to Harris’ and his cousin’s life. I would take the children on a field trip to a farm so that the students could experience for themselves how a farm really worked.
  • (4/5)
    A young boy of eleven spends the summer at the farm of a distant cousin, and finds himself repeatedly in trouble, at the instigation of nine year old Harris. Very funny, and an enjoyable read.
  • (5/5)
    If you love listening to Tales from Lake Wobegon, I'm positive you'll give this book five stars. Great for any age, probably a joy to read aloud as a family. If you've raised animals or lived on a farm you may enjoy it six stars or more! Interesting to note the level of technology held by this area post-WWII. Comments from those people on farms in the late '40s '50s welcome for perspective.
  • (2/5)
    Not at the top of my list but it was still a pretty funny book to read.
  • (5/5)
    I read this book when I was a young girl. I read it to my daughter. As an adult I appreciate the humor so much more! A great read and well written!
  • (5/5)